After spending more than six years with Republicans questioning whether he is an American citizen and likening him to Hitler, the snub by the Saudi king was just another day at the office for Barack Obama.
But I can't help thinking what Harry Truman would do. More than once, confronted by the infamous "Do Nothing" Republican Congress, which is the Constitutional Convention by comparison with their successors today, Truman said in various iterations, "You may not like me, but you sure as hell will respect the office of the President of the United States."
I've got no problem doing the Full Harry on the House of Saud.
In 2010, Mr. Obama agreed to sell $60 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. I'm sure that made the Military Industrial Complex happy, but think how much $60 billion would do to rebuild our lethally decrepit passenger rail system? (Amtrak's subsidy — and all modes of transportation, especially airlines and roads are subsidized — will be $1.1 billion if the GOP House has its way.
And let's quit buying Saudi oil — nearly $58 million a day as of February. Sure, they can sell to the Chinese, but that will be more problematic when we withdraw the U.S. Navy from the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. Let the People's Liberation Army Navy or David Cameron's tiny Royal Navy pick up the slack.
Most of that Saudi oil, like carbon all over the world, needs to stay in the ground if we are to avoid leaving our grandchildren a planet out of a science-fiction nightmare. This is a good start. It would likely speed conversion to renewables, greater conservation, energy innovation and, yes, more trains. We have a surplus of oil to see through the transition.